During the Monday, January 24, 2022 public hearing for the proposed Rice Pond Village project, the public hearing was closed (meaning no more public comments or input) from the neighborhood or other parties.
The Millbury Planning Board did not vote on the special permit and will conduct deliberation on a decision for the proposed project and ask the Town of Millbury’s legal counsel to write their decision for them to vote upon. A Monday, February 14, 2022 meeting has been scheduled for the proposed Rice Pond Village project, which will be open to the neighborhood and public to attend. The Millbury Planning Board has 90-days from Monday, January 24, 2022 (until Monday, April 4, 2022±), to make a decision on the proposed Rice Pond Village project, either approval or denial, which requires a super majority, so 4 out of 5 planning board members to approve the proposed project.
As of Monday, January 24, 2022, it seems unlikely to most that a super majority will vote to approve the proposed Rice Pond Village project with all the outstanding or unaddressed safety and access issues on Rice Road, at the Providence & Worcester Railroad crossing, the intersection of Rice Road and South Main Street, and the intersection of Rice Road and Providence Street (Route 122A). Neighbors are hopeful that each Millbury Planning Board member will carefully consider all of the input, discussion, and unresolved issues before making any decision on this proposed project, and as some members vowed at the beginning of these public hearings that they would protect the existing neighbors and neighborhoods from any adverse impacts.
The developer, Steven F. Venincasa, through his legal counsel, stated (and we paraphrase) that if the proposed Rice Pond Village project was not approved by the Millbury Planning Board then their intention would be to submit a Chapter 40B affordable housing project with much greater density (i.e., slightly less than 225 apartments). This is not the first time that the Millbury Planning Board and neighbors has been presented with this ultimatum from developer, Steven F. Venincasa, and affordable housing is the retaliation. Affordable housing should not be retaliatory, but rather a carefully planned community that fits in with the neighborhood and seen as a benefit to all stakeholders in the neighborhood or area.
The neighborhood is not opposed to the Rice Pond Realty Trust, John Antaya, Kathleen (McLaughlin) Mardirosian, and the McLaughlin Family Living Trust developing their property, provided it is in full compliance with all Millbury Zoning Bylaws and Subdivision Control Laws (i.e., no special permits or waivers), is responsible, and is in harmony with the established neighborhood. Any additional dwelling units will require upgrades to the entire length of Rice Road including, but not limited to the Providence & Worcester Railroad crossing and the intersections at the both ends of Rice Road.